About Fall Line


Fall Line was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "A Year in Reading: Best of the South" list published in the Sunday paper, December 31, 2012. Reviewer Gina Webb wrote,  "Nothing says Southern like a bunch of corrupt good ol’ boys sitting around a table gambling away the lives of poor people. Starnes rips the lid off dirty Georgia politics, skewers the haves and honors the have-nothings who pushed back when a manmade lake came along to drown their communities for electricity and big profits."

In her review in March 2012, Webb called Fall Line "A quiet dazzler of a new novel...Of all the contemporary Southern novels today that draw comparisons to Faulkner and O’Connor, Starnes’ tale may be one of the few that deserves them. The unsentimental but glorious world seen through the eyes of a 'half mutt half chow' fearful of man and guns is pure Faulkner. Elmer, condemning the bigwigs around him for 'their fondness for impure women and liquor and money and the love of their own images reflected in shiny glass,' echoes the righteous, scathing hatred of Hazel Motes."  

Other Reviews:
  • Starnes has produced a novel worthy of attention, providing real insight into how the power of money and government contributed to the loss of the agrarian South. Confiscation of private land for money and tourism was certainly rampant through the South during the first half of the twentieth century…In addition to the topical issue, the novel carries universality through Starnes’s characterization of Elmer Blizzard, a man like many humans, never able to accommodate to life.  Starnes knows his home area and its people and how to write about them with admirable authority and poetic understanding. -- Jean W. Cash, Studies in American Culture
  • With Fall Line, Joe Samuel Starnes has written a novel that accrues force the way a swollen river becomes a torrent. -- TriQuartely Review  
  • Told from various viewpoints, Fall Line is an affectionate, eloquent story of loss and survival. -- Teresa Weaver, Atlanta Magazine
  • Starnes is "an expert in local color doing right by his all-but-vanished region." -- Publishers Weekly
  • The world Starnes creates in Fall Line is as evocative as it is conflicted. -- Philadelphia Stories
  • If you liked Deliverance by James Dickey, you'll like Fall Line by Joe Samuel Starnes. The Oogasula is about to be dammed by the Georgia Power Company and to hell with the folks whose houses and graves are going to be flooded. Some people take the money. One of them takes the law into his own hands. This novel is vividly alive with people (and a great dog) and the river. -- John Casey, author of Spartina, winner of the National Book Award
  • Starnes's evocatively Southern story may well have readers wanting to check their shoes for red mud or find an old hound to pat. Fall Line's message transcends region, however, leaving us at once troubled by man's sins against nature and himself, yet knowing somehow that both will endure. -- James C. Cobb, author of The South and America since World War II
Online Resources:

Book Description: 

December 1, 1955. Floodgates are poised to slam shut on a concrete dam straddling the Oogasula River, creating a lake that will submerge a forgotten crossroads and thousands of acres of woodlands in rural Georgia. Fall Line unfolds in one day's action, as viewed through the eyes of Elmer Blizzard, a troubled ex-deputy; Mrs. McNulty, a lonely widow who refuses to leave her doomed shack by the river; her loyal, aging dog, Percy; and a rapacious politician, State Senator Aubrey Terrell, for whom the new lake is named. A story of land grabs, wounded families, bitterness, hypocrisy, violence, and revenge in the changing South, Fall Line is populated by complex characters who want to do the right thing but don't know how. Starnes's novel is a memorable, beautiful, and heartbreaking tale of a backwater hamlet's damaged people and transformed landscape.